Zim needs $5,3bn for platinum expansion

HARARE - Zimbabwe needs investment of as much as $5,3 billion and stable mining policies if it is to boost platinum output to a point where it can rival Russia as the world’s second-biggest producer of the metal, an industry organisation said.

To increase production to the more than 500 000 ounces per annum needed to justify the construction of base and precious metal smelters and refineries, investment of $2,8 billion is needed in mines, as much as $2 billion in processing plants and between $200 and $500 million to ensure adequate power supply, the Harare-based Chamber of Mines said in a report obtained by Bloomberg.

“It’s evident from 2017 onward Zimbabwe’s production of platinum will be approaching that of Russia,” the Chamber said.

“This growth projection, however, requires significant investment.”

While mines operated by Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and Aquarius Platinum Ltd. will this year produce about 365 000 ounces of the precious metal, investment has been hindered by power shortages and a government demand that control of assets be ceded to the State or black Zimbabweans.

Russia produced about 800 000 ounces of platinum last year, according to the Chamber.

South Africa produced 4,1 million ounces.

In addition to expansions planned by existing producers companies including Todal, which is 60 percent owned by Eurasian National Resources Plc, Global Platinum, Ruschrome Mining, Amari Platinum and ACR, could start mines, the Chamber said.

Todal “is likely to be the next Zimbabwe producer,” the Chamber said.

Expansion would generate as many as 4 000 jobs and 115 megawatts of additional power would have to be provided, the group said.

Of that Todal would need 50 megawatts, the Chamber said.

Zimbabwe currently accounts for about 6 percent of world platinum production. South Africa is the biggest producer.

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